Behind the scenes of film production

What goes on behind the scenes of every Ballard Film

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Behind the scenes of film production

Fletcher Anderson

Fletcher Anderson

Fletcher Anderson

Tess Petrillo, Staff Reporter

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Behind every film production there are always components that the audience is unaware of. Students in the film program produce a series of different films throughout the year that require very specific and important pre-production steps in order to be executed successfully.

The pre-production process consists of the creation of the story synopsis, developing a visual aesthetic, storyboarding and organizing shooting and production schedules.

All of the productions are done in groups, meaning that multiple people have to come together and collaborate in order to complete the project. Working with a group can result in a good outcome or a bad one depending on how the students work together.

Sophomore Dani Edwards has been in the film program for two years and finds that working with groups makes the process a lot easier.

“If you have a really good group, everything is going to be a lot easier because you have multiple people working on the project so everyone can be doing different things at the same time,” Edwards said.

However, working with multiple people does not always run smoothly. Senior Ethan Hawthorne-Dallas has been in the film program for four years and has won multiple awards for his films, but he still finds difficulty when working with people.

“When you work with other people it’s really a game of conflict and compromise,” Hawthorne-Dallas said. “Everyone could have totally different ideas of what the project should be. It’s challenging to work with people to try and find a middle ground where everyone is happy and can create a project. Hopefully there won’t be a lot of tension so when the group has to go on a shoot there won’t be any falling-outs or major conflicts.”

The synopsis for a film is crucial to its outcome–without a good story and plot, the film will not be as good. Many students run into trouble in this part of the process.

Senior Jasper Laur, who has also been doing the program for four years, has difficulty with this part of the procedure. “I am a visual thinker, so if I’m given a piece of music or an idea it’s easy for me to come up with visuals for it,” Laur said. “But coming up with the idea itself has always been something that’s very difficult for me.”

Hawthorne-Dallas also has trouble coming up with narrative ideas. “The hardest part of the pre-production process for me, is coming up with a film that is interesting while still also being a story,” he said. “Coming up with a film that can actually be done in a good way, is very difficult.”


After coming up with a story, each student presents their synopsis to their class on pitch day. After presenting, the student is given feedback from their classmates and from the film teacher, Matthew Lawrence.

“Mr. Lawrence is very helpful in the preparation process,” Edwards said. “After we pitch and he organizes us into our groups he usually gives us lots of advice. This is always helpful because two eyes are always better than one.”

Lawrence has been teaching the class for over ten years and is experienced in helping students improve their work to its highest potential.

“He’s very helpful when he looks over your story and helps you figure out what kind of change you can make to make your story deeper than just some random short film,” Hawthorne-Dallas said. “How to give your film a purpose and how to give your film a greater meaning in the context of the world you are creating.”

Another difficult part about the preparation process is organizing filming schedules that can work for all of the group partners and actors involved in the project.

Junior Marley Rankin was in the Whitman film program as a middle schooler, and now is in her third year of the Ballard program. “The hardest part for me is getting all the locations and actors perfect, exactly how we want it,” Rankin said. “But if you work with a good group and you all have a good idea of what the story is and what aesthetics you want, this will make the process go faster.”

Since 2001 when the program was created, the general steps of the preparation process have not changed. While this might seem tedious to people who are outside of the film program, this specific process is one of the things that makes the program so successful.

“Every graduate that’s come back and talked to us has said that they are miles ahead of other incoming freshmen,” Laur said.

Learning this specific process gives graduates a head start for their current college classes and for involvement in the film industry. Students are able to achieve their projected careers and their best work.

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